From Rome to Eternity: Catholicism and the Arts in Italy, ca. 1550-1650

By Pamela M. Jones; Thomas Worcester | Go to book overview

FEMALE SAINTS IN EARLY MODERN ITALIAN
CHAPBOOKS, CA. 1570–1670: SAINT CATHERINE OF
ALEXANDRIA AND SAINT CATHERINE OF SIENA

Pamela M. Jones

Saints and sinners resonated strongly in the imaginations of early modern Catholics. As known through Scripture, hagiographies, liturgies, sermons, reputedly miraculous images, paintings, sculptures, prints, songs, plays, and the like, images of saints and sinners were used worldwide, in the century after the Council of Trent, to delight, teach, and inspire an increasingly diverse spectrum of Catholic viewers.1 Accomplished painters and literati, such as Caravaggio and Veronica Franco, either created their own highly sophisticated personas partly through analogy with the experiences of saints and sinners or were interpreted by others in those contexts, leaving for posterity the fascinating art and literature discussed in this book by David Stone and Fiora Bassanese. Giovan Battista Andreini, as Michael Zampelli demonstrated in this volume, even used the Magdalene's story to stage the redemption of the theatrical profession. Yet ordinary persons also gained an understanding of self, society, and salvation partly in the context of the same saints and sinners—and in light of changing images of them as presented within early modern Catholic culture.


Chapbooks in Early Modern Italy

Many of the media in which ideas about saints and sinners were conveyed in early modern Italy are discussed in this book. The purpose of my essay is to introduce chapbooks, a medium that has been virtually overlooked in Italian studies. Chapbooks were cheap, popular

1 I thank Kathryn Brush and Sheryl Reiss for their insightful comments on drafts
of this essay. I am also grateful to Lisa Pon for sharing with me her expertise on
print culture in early modern Italy.

On the increasing diversity of early modern Catholics, see the essays in this book
by Peter Burke and Gauvin Bailey.

-89-

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